It feels a little silly in April, but I've gotten chilly on damp evenings a few times lately, and I'm ongoingly grateful for these gas logs that bring happiness and coziness to just such days. Mr. Darcy is quite happy about them too.
I've been working on commissions the last few days. It's lovely to have some short term structure to supplement the very long term museum show I'm working on. It's surprisingly happy to cross a finished project off the list. So I took a break from the journal while I worked on a couple of those, but last night it felt good to get back to it. I froze some individual slices of my birthday cake last month when I realized it would be me and a whole cake alone in the house. Last night I got a slice out for after dinner. I'm glad I spread out the enjoyment of it. And so are my jeans.
The last two days I've had a pair of Cardinals building a nest JUST outside my kitchen window. I am delighted and hoping for babies. It would be a perfect spring to have a little extra company and something gorgeous to watch.
Yesterday I took Mr. Darcy for his walk through the forest and then went back. He's got a little older dog hip trouble, so he can't do my full walk with me these days, but I went back with my sketchbook and painted the fading wildflowers. It was a joy just to sit and paint and listen to the birds, who seem louder this year than I've ever heard them. But perhaps I'm just noticing more.
I'm lucky to have work I love in a home I love, and overall I've been pretty content in my daily life. Yesterday it was suddenly hard to see all the family groups together in the park, and as I was walking home, I got a text out of the blue that friends were doing a birthday rolling party in their gorgeous old Thunderbird. I ended up visiting with another friend and neighbor on the sidewalk as we waited for them to get there, and it felt so perfectly time that they seemed like angels dropping in just when I needed them. I'm so grateful for my community, even at arms length at the moment.
I intentionally got back to more color today, and it felt really nice. Mr. Darcy and I walked over to the park and sketched Brooks after my bike ride this afternoon.
Today I carved a small version of the pelican block I did several weeks ago. I'd like to be able to do a note card too. I decided it was the right size to just paste on into the journal, so this is mostly sketches but with one real print added in. Print work is more and more what I'm doing these days. Sometime I need to sketch my press, but this was an easy way to add it today. I'd like to get back to more color. This one is very monotone, and color was the primary thing I wanted when I started this. But it does describe my day pretty well.
It was a cold, gray morning today, and I decided to extend my holiday a bit more. I've been needing to mark this moment, since I usually spend it with family and also with a very dear second "Easter family." So I played a lot of music last night, had a little champagne with my farmers market dinner, and today I got out my great grandmother's violets and daisies china that I love and lingered. It felt nice to draw through breakfast, read the paper, and spend some time on the sofa with a new book that came in the mail today from my sister.
Now the sun is out, which helps amazingly, and I'm going to lock into a little more work and a walk this afternoon. But I figure we all need to give ourselves a little self grace these days to be less productive than we might otherwise be. I'm grateful my WAMA show is a good ways off. I'll have plenty of time to do it well and still give myself some half days when I need them.
I spent a couple more days doing intricate and steady work on my current prints, but tonight I was missing my sketchbook. The Memphis Urban Sketchers had a "virtual sketch crawl" today (Saturdays are our normal days), so I wanted to join in. I sit on the sofa a lot in the evenings, but this is my other favorite spot. I'm grateful, so grateful, that I had spent the last year working to make my house a warmer, more pleasant place to be. This corner is one of my new happy places.
I just framed the poster last month to remember a really pivotal show for me. It was a solo exhibition of Berthe Morisot, and she's my new art hero. She just flat out went for it. She was showing in the salon in her 20's and then showed at every Impressionist exhibition that they put together themselves. Frustratingly, fully half of the show was from private collections. Museums just weren't collecting her when they were sucking up every available male impressionist canvas. And her work is amazing. One critic called her "the angel of the incomplete" because of her confident, calligraphic style.
After I saw her show, plus another current woman artist show, also at the Musee d'Orsay, two different friends challenged me to go for it if what I wanted was another museum show. My first, at Dixon, was a career moment, but I'd been having this "what now?" feeling ever since. I don't see ever landing in the Orsay, but Morisot's gumption and drive made me redouble my efforts, and I was awarded a show at the Walter Anderson Museum of Art for 2022. Which, given the current world situation, is perfect. And I'm so glad for something really exciting to work towards just now. It's been a huge bright spot for me lately.
I got really deep into print work for several days and didn't take time from that to do any Quarantine Journal, but last night I was missing it. I also got my first ever groceries delivery, and that seemed worth celebrating. I'd gotten some lettuce from the open air farmers market, but it had been just on a month since getting any other groceries. My milk lasted amazingly, but it was finally time to get fresh. So morning tea today was a treat as well.
The other provisions I got were books from Burke's Books here in Memphis. Their website is open for orders, they have free local delivery, and there is also curbside pickup. I took a break from work the other day and got on my bike for some loops through midtown and new books. Milk, avocados, blueberries, and books make for a good home life.
I've been outside inhaling spring. The mayor has threatened to close the parks if people can't behave, so I've been diving deep into the forest and sitting and sketching and drinking it in, in case we lose it. I know my journal is heavy on the green lately, but that's how my mind works in spring pretty much every year.
Then yesterday I worked on the garden, which may be the real sign that the world as we know it is ending. I did have some help come in, since that's open air and socially distant. It's the last piece (except one tiny, bad upstairs bathroom) of the yearlong project sprucing up the house. I needed help getting out some poison ivy that I'd let get way too entrenched, and they put in blueberries and a fig tree for me. I got some herbs from an open air nursery, and my dad just brought me a couple of tomato plants (SO odd not to hug him!), so I planted all of those myself.
Usually I'd rather make art than take care of the place, but I have found a lot of satisfaction recently in making the house nice. Just in time for all this. So grateful. And usually I'm traveling, which makes watering and caring for a garden a nonstarter. But this year seems like the year to try once again to grow some tomatoes and herbs at the very least. So yesterday I did all that instead of a journal entry. I'm working not to put pressure on myself for specific projects just at this moment and instead do the things that bring me joy. So now I'm going to make dinner, listen to 2010 baseball on KMOX, and read some more Harry Potter.
Martha Kelly is an artist and illustrator who lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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